The Fethard-on-Sea boycott was a controversy involving Sean and Sheila Cloney (née Kelly), a married couple from the village of Fethard-on-Sea, County Wexford, Ireland. It led to a sectarian boycott led by the local Catholic priest of some members of the local Protestant community in 1957.
The Cloney family
Sean Cloney, a Catholic, came from Dungulf, a short distance to the north of Fethard-on-Sea while Sheila, a Church of Ireland Protestant, came from Johns Hill in the village itself. They married at an Augustinian church in Hammersmith, London in 1949.
At the time, non-Catholic spouses of Roman Catholics who wished to be married in the Catholic Church had to agree to bring their children up as Roman Catholics as a result of Ne Temere.
Parish priest Fr. Stafford told Sheila Cloney she had to raise her children as Catholics. Sheila refused, leading to her leaving the town with her daughters. The parish priest organised a boycott of the local Protestant population which was endorsed by Bishop Michael Brown. Sheila Cloney went first to Northern Ireland, then Orkney. Eventually Sean traced her to Orkney, they were reconciled and their daughters were taught at home.
A film, A Love Divided, was based on the boycott, though some dramatic licence was taken with some events.
Father Sean Fortune
Sean Cloney was one of the people from the area who complained about the behaviour of Father Sean Fortune including abuse and stealing money. Sean had compiled a dossier on the priest including a list of seventy young people who had been in contact with the priest. Fortune left Fethard in 1987, eventually committing suicide while on trial in 1999 for a series of underage sexual predator allegations.
- Fethard mourns passing of Sheila Cloney aged 83, New Ross Standard, 1 July 2009
- Woman at centre of infamous Fethard-on-Sea boycott dies, Michael Parsons, The Irish Times, 30 June 2009
- Village torn apart by a mother's love, The Sunday Herald, 26 March 2000
- If Paisley finally says ‘yes’, we in the South are in no position to gloat, Irish Examiner, 24 March, 2007
- Fethard-on-Sea boycott, Remarks by Professor Brian Farrell
- "Fethardism". Time. 19 August 1957. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
- Comiskey's turbulent priest, Alison O'Connor, The Sunday Business Post
- Father at the centre of Fethard furore, The Irish Times, 10 October 1999, retrieved 4 July 2009